Chhatriwali: Normalizing Safe Sex

“Sanya is an unemployed chemistry genius looking for a job. However, she also wants to use her knowledge of chemistry to help young minds move beyond the taboos of sex with the right education.”

Title: Chhatriwali

Cast: Rakul Preet, Singh Sumeet, Vyas Satish Kaushik

Directors: Tejas Prabhaa Vijay Deoskar

This is a theme and story that we have seen before. The promotion and normalization of safe sex has proved to be a matter that Bollywood cinema is trying to address. However, as we have seen with movies such as like “Janhit Mein Jaari”, this topic is one that has to be done so in a way to correctly get the message across. Otherwise, the movie will just try and be another comedy with a little bit of theme sprinkled in. With that said, how does Chhatriwali stack up?

“Chhatriwali” is a film that attempts to tackle an important subject: the promotion of safe sex through the use of condoms. The main character, Sanya Dhingra (played by Rakul Preet Singh), is a fictional chemistry whizz who works as a quality control expert in a condoms factory, and she faces significant resistance from the community in her efforts to educate people about the importance of using condoms to prevent unwanted pregnancies and health hazards.

The film is well-intentioned, but it struggles to fully embrace its message. Many of the characters, particularly the men, are portrayed as being resistant to the idea of using condoms, and the film often falls back on tired, jaded lines about how these are “ashleel” things that are not appropriate for young boys and girls. Furthermore, the film is coy and backward in its treatment of the subject matter, often suggesting that it is the women who are responsible for their reproductive status, while the men are only interested in having fun.

One of the main weaknesses of the film is its script, which is afraid to fully commit to its message. Sanya faces significant resistance from her husband’s family, and even her own husband is portrayed as being hesitant to fully support her efforts. The script also perpetuates harmful stereotypes, such as suggesting that all women will experience negative side effects from using condoms.

Despite its flaws, “Chhatriwali” is a film that is well-intentioned and attempts to tackle an important subject. However, it ultimately falls short due to its inability to fully embrace its message, and its perpetuation of harmful stereotypes. Rakul Preet Singh’s performance as Sanya Dhingra is perky and engaging, and Sumeet Vyas is reliable as her husband. However, the film ultimately struggles against its script, which undermines the message of the film.

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